The director, Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Rev. Fr. Raymond Anoliefo of the Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac, Lagos, has called on the Federal Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other advocacy groups to stand up against violence meted out to women.
Fr. Anoliefo, who made the call during his welcome address at the one-day seminar organised by the group to commemorate the last edition of the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women recently held in Festac, Lagos, said the exponential increase in the rate of rape and other gender-based violence cases was alarming. He said the scourge needed urgent intervention by the judiciary, civic rights groups and security forces. He noted that, in some cases, victims were stigmatised, blamed for being raped, and in most times did not get the required support needed for justice.
He said: “The issue of rape and other forms of violence against women is becoming prevalent and alarming in our society. The police, law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and civil rights groups are all complaining over the incessant cases of rape and violence. We are getting so many reports about this.
Fortunately, this seminar is holding in line with the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the United Nations. And our focus in the seminar is rape. The statistics are very high and (we) need urgent intervention to curb the menace before it completely destroys our children who are mostly victims,” he said.
In his words, the event was geared towards a proactive engagement for the elimination of rape and other forms of sexual/gender-based violence in the society.
Emphasising the need for the Rape Penalty Bill, which was recently passed, to be signed into law, Fr. Analiefo stated that even though most Nigerians were not law-abiding, it might help reduce the increasing spate of rape, as perpetrators would be deterred form the evil act.
“It’ is a welcome development, at least, a good way to show these perpetrators that society is rising up against the heinous crime. But Nigerians are not bereft of laws. Implementation is always a challenge. Again, it is always difficult to get rape victims to come out boldly and confidently to report rape cases. In most cases, there is no evidence to back up the crime, and the case is swept under the carpet. Oftentimes the victim is stigmatised by society and blamed for being available to the perpetrator. Some victims have lost trust in the law enforcement agencies and are scared for their lives.
“Even the police are not well trained in how to handle rape victims to get the useful information they need for investigation, and the victims end up feeling ashamed and less of themselves. All these are factors that hinder rape victims from coming out to report. And because of these, there’s this culture of silence going on in the victims. They choose not to talk about it. Only 24 per cent of rape cases are reported to the authorities, and not all of the cases get the necessary justice.
“We as a people must stop stigmatising rape victims. It is disheartening when rape victims are blamed because of what they wear or the location they were at the time of the rape. The rape penalty bill is very necessary and very important. I pray it is signed into law, but the concern is if it will be fully enforced and implemented.